*We drink from the same River with Cows
Students of the Federal Government College, Ohafia, Abia State have cried out over shortage of water, inadequate feeding and insecurity at the institution.
The College founded in March 2000, allegedly treats students’ welfare with nonchalance as basic facilities which are meant to ensure that students study without hitches are either lacking or not being maintained.
A cross section of the students who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they lack access to potable water and are only made to drink water from a nearby Mmuri river where Fulani cattle rearers also take their cows to drink water.
The school is said to have three water bore holes which were sunk through the contributions of parents. However, none of the three water bore holes is in working condition. Instead of repairing the bore holes, the school was said to have contracted out the supply of water in the school to local tanker drivers who supply the school water from the nearby Mmuri River for all purposes, including drinking. The students now fell sick on regular basis because water from the river is not good for human consumption.
“We are forced to drink water from the same source with cows causing us to fall ill on regular basis. Even sick students are not adequately taken care of at the school clinic which is in shambles despite the huge amount students pay each term for equipment. Parents are regularly asked to either buy drugs for their sick children or demanded to come and take the home for treatment,” the students chorused.
According to a staff of the school, “Any student who fails sick here which is now a regular occurrence because of the type of water they drink is on his own as he or she will have to wait until the parents bring some drugs for the student or he or she was taken home for treatment”.
247ureports.com gathered that even the food served students is of poor quality and tasteless. The food is most times, rationed as students complain of shortage of food from their refectory.
Our correspondent further gathered that as a mixed boarding school, FGC, Ohafia lacks perimeter fencing even as the Parents Teachers Association of the school collected levies from parents and guardians.
“Almost on daily basis, lives of staff and students are exposed to all manner of dangers. Hostels are burgled at will by hoodlums and students’ personal effects stolen without traces. Staff and students live in constant fear as they do not know when criminals would strike.”
According to a parent who spoke on the condition of anonymity to 247ureports.com, “Some years back, we were asked to pay levy for the fencing of the school. Considering the security implication of not having the school fenced, we did not hesitate in paying the levy which ran into millions of naira, but we are surprised that years after this levy was paid, the fencing was yet to be completed and nobody is telling us what has become of the money we paid and the students’ lives are daily exposed to dangers which we are not in anyway happy about. It is the appeal of we parents that if the money could not be utilized for the purpose for which it was meant, it should be refunded to us”.
Some parents also complained that SS1 students were asked to pay an undisclosed amount of money for lockers and technical drawing text books, which they are yet to be supplied. Others complain that they do not get their children’s termly examination results which are meant to be uploaded to them through email addresses supplied for the purpose of monitoring their performances.
According to a resident of the School’s host community, who gave his name as Kalu Ukpong, “the rot in Federal Government College, Ohafia did not start today. It has taken roots and needs a surgical operation to get things rights. The Federal Ministry of Education should look into what is happening in the College.
Ukpong who works with one of the state ministries in the area, told 247ureports.com that the former Principal of the College, Mr. Dennis Igbokwe, conducted an internal supplementary exam to make up for the required number in JS1 and SS1 classes and extorted N45,000 from each of the parents who had their wards given admission into the College.
“Out of the students that took the exam, 351 of them were offered admission after their parents or guardians had parted with N45, 000 each which was not receipted. Parents who could not afford such money were denied admission. Just check the colossal amount about N15.8m collected during this exercise. I doubt if it was paid into the coffers of the school since it was not receipted.
He further stated that due to the manner Igbokwe ran the College, staff and students went into wild jubilations on the day he left the school.
As at press time, efforts to get the reaction of the Principal of the College, was unsuccessful as he was said to be away on official assignment. However, when told about the reason for seeking to see the Principal, a staff of the College told our correspondent that they are not allowed to talk to the press.